Posted 26 October 2015 - 08:45 PM
This is more or less the review I posted awhile back, with some changes made to it. I have to say, watching the pilot again was so much fun. I still had a huge smile on my face throughout the episode despite this being the second time I’ve watched it.
If you watched the six minute trailer, then you pretty much have the plot of the pilot. Kara was sent to Earth to look after her baby cousin. However, her ship was caught in the wake of Krypton exploding and was shoved into the Phantom Zone. 24 years later, her ship somehow managed to escape and find its way to Earth. There she discovers that her cousin is now a grown adult known to the world as Superman and she's still a 13 year old girl. Superman takes her to live with the Danvers (played by Helen Slater and Dean Cain), two scientists who helped him learn about her powers. They take her in as her owneven though they have a daughter of their own named Alex. Kara decides to try and be normal and doesn't use her powers since she doesn’t think the world needs another hero. That changes when the plane her sister is on is in trouble, and Kara leaps to the rescue. After that she decides to don tights and a cape and become a hero like her cousin.
The episode does set up what I'm assuming is going to be the season long arc. Kara wasn't the only one to escape the Phantom Zone. A prison ship harboring some of the galaxy's deadliest criminals also broke free of the Zone and crash landed on Earth. The aliens all went on the run. For whatever reason, they’re still on Earth. I’m not sure if they can’t leave, or don’t want to. To make matters worse, they're being led by someone called the General, and it's not who you think. I didn’t mention her identity in my original review so as not to spoil it until the episode aired. I’ll talk about it now, though. Its Kara’s aunt, though it is unclear if she is or isn't Lara. I don’t see them making Clark’s biological mother the main villain, since that would mean Clark would have to have some interaction with her and I don’t think the show wants to use Superman at all. Plus she doesn’t really mention Clark at all.
Oh, and it was Alura, Kara's mother, who put the criminals in the PZ prison so they all have a personal reason to target Supergirl. The DEO was formed to combat these alien menaces, and they blame their arrival on Kara. This means that all the villains have a great reason for attacking Kara and National City, and it creates friction between Kara and the DEO.
Vartox is a decent first villain. He’s incredibly strong, has a powerful axe that can cut Kara, and is a misogynist. He’s not very memorable, but he gets the ball rolling on the villains.
Kara's two fights with Vartox were really well done . Kara uses her full range of powers and the two just beat the crap out of each other and get thrown through all manner of walls and cars. I loved it when Kara drops from the sky in front of Vartox's truck and just lets it ram her, throwing Vartox out the front windshield and exploding behind her as she walks heroically towards him.
The plane rescue was pretty amazing, and looked really good. It also led to some good moments as Kara got exasperated when she sees the bridge coming up and then later gets annoyed at a TV reporter that complains about the damage done to the bridge.
The cast are perfect in their roles. Melissa Benoist rocks as Kara/Supergirl. She handles all the emotional beats Kara goes through in the pilot. She’s fun and spunky and is just a perfect fit for the character. The show lucked out with her.
The supporting cast is pretty great as well. The Danvers are only seen briefly but I hope they have a bigger presence in the series. Alex is good as Kara's older sister who was jealous of Kara when she first arrived. They have a good relationship but Alex is not supportive of Kara becoming Supergirl at first, mainly because she works for the DEO and knows that the PZ criminals will target Kara if she puts the S on her chest. I’m glad that she came around at the end, though I bet there will still be some tension between the sisters.
Winslow, or just Winn, is Kara's geeky friend who has a crush on her. She confides in him and he helps her make her costume and sends her out to fight crime. He dubs them the Super friends, a name Kara is not fond of but one I hope gets used a lot. He’s kind of like a male Felicity, except without the genius level IQ. Justin Jordan is a great fit for the role, and it’s nice to see him in a role where he’s not a giant jerk (like in Smash). He has the geekiness down pat.
James (only his Mom and Superman call him Jimmy) Olsen is a much cooler, confident character than he is usually depicted. This is an older version of Jimmy who has established himself as an award winning photographer for the Daily Planet and has come to National City and Cat Co. to launch a new chapter of his life. He also came to keep an eye on Kara and to give her Clark's baby blanket for Kara to use as a cape. I don’t think he’s going to be a romantic interest for Kara, or at least I hope not. He’s better as a confidant that can help Kara grow in her powers.
Cat is a really fun character. She's definitely a demanding boss and she mainly latches on to Supergirl to give her failing newspaper a much needed boost, but she also seems to truly believe in Supergirl as a force for good. Or at least that's what I got out of her character. It’s nice to see Calista Flockhart on TV again. I loved her as Ally McBeal.
Henshaw is just a gruff, unyielding military man that sees Kara as more of a hindrance than a help. He doesn’t trust aliens, and that includes Supergirl. Sure, she proves herself by beating Vartox but I don’t think he’s about to roll out the welcome mat.
What I really loved was that it was a really upbeat, optimistic pilot. Kara is a young woman who just wants to help people however she can and she believes she can make a difference as Supergirl. Though don't worry, it's not too bright and cheerful. Hank Henshaw, leader of the DEO, is a pretty pessimistic guy who doesn't believe Kara is capable of helping them and isn't a big fan of Superman and says that there are people out there who don't trust him but don't voice that opinion out of fear. Still, optimism and fun win the day for which I am glad and it seems like the majority of the public at large view Superman as a great hero, a nice change of pace from how he's viewed in the New 52 and apparently in the upcoming Batman Vs. Superman movie.
A lot has been made that Supergirl comes across as too much of a feminist show just based on the trailer, and it definitely has a girl power vibe but I don't think that's a bad thing. This TV show is the first major solo female superhero vehicle in movies or TV recently so playing up that aspect isn't a horrible thing. Besides, if Supergirl were real there would be people like Henshaw and Vartox that wouldn't think she would be as capable just because she is a girl. Maybe people will have a problem with Alura being the dominant parent for Kara, or Kara being referred to as the Daughter of Alura, but if Clark can be Son of Jor-El and if Jor-El and Jonathan get a lot more attention than Martha or Lara, I don't see why Kara can't play up the women in her life.
Also, people were afraid this would be more rom-com than anything else and would focus on her love life but other than one date and Winn pining after her, romance really isn't an issue. Plus, who cares if it is? Oliver's love life became a major focus on his series, and Barry's love of Iris was a major plot in the first season of The Flash.
Superman's presence is felt in the pilot, but besides a real quick look at him as he holds out his hand to a young Kara that just landed, we don't see him. Also, besides Kara calling him Superman at the start, he's never referred by that name again. Instead people just say him and once someone calls him the Man of Steel. Not sure why the episode seemed shy about using the name Superman. Also, he's still in Metropolis so the show is going to have to come up with good reasons for why he never comes to help Supergirl as the season progresses.
I'm guessing everyone in the DEO knows that Kara Danvers is Supergirl. At first it looked like only Henshaw knew but he explicitly states her name in the command room so all the techs there must have heard it. Really, other than Cat all the major characters know Kara's identity. It’s an odd choice to make, since any one of them could blab the secret or be a mole or something. I’d rather not have that many people knowing her secret.
It’s a great pilot that does just about everything right. I am so pumped for the series now that it’s finally airing.
"You will give the people an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you. They will stumble. They will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders."
It's a recession when your neighbor loses his job: it's a depression when you lose yours.
-- Harry S. Truman